When Brenton Paxton describes the first day of kindergarten as “tough,” he’s not talking about his daughter’s transition.
Until last fall, Brenton and Brooklynn spent every day together, keeping each other company during chores around the family’s farm outside Manderson, Wyoming. Like any parent, Brenton had moments when he wouldn’t have minded a little less together time. But far more often, Brenton appreciated having Brooklyn on the job, teaching her new skills, sharing the view of the mountains from their farm, marking her growth with the seasons.
“I depended on her being there,” Brenton said. “And suddenly, I didn’t have my helper anymore...That was pretty tough. ”
Most of us get one day out of the year to share our workplace with our children. On this, Take Your Daughters and Sons to Work Day, we will interrupt our busy schedules to show our children the insides of our office cubicles, to share a lunch break, to introduce (in fun and enticing ways, we hope) the value of our work.
And here, at FCSAmerica, we’ll also talk to visiting children – about 200 across the various offices in our four states – about agriculture. It’s our day to pay tribute to the generations of farming families who have passed their know-how and work ethic from parent to child through a shared interest in a job well done.
Brenton and his wife, Justine, each learned farming on their parents’ land. Brenton remembers his dad teaching him to measure the moisture level in the hay – and the need to sometimes rise earlier than usual to cut it at just the right moment. Some of “the worst jobs in the world” also are among his favorite family memories. Brenton said he and Justine can’t help but sometimes compare their lessons learned: “Well, my dad did it this way. Well, my dad did it this way.”
The Paxtons now have three children of their own, and hope that someday one or more will become farmers. At 6 and 7 years old, Brooklynn and her older brother, Hayden, already zip around on their Rhino side by side to help with gates. Not quite tall enough to drive the pickup, they lobby to split duties at the steering wheel and pedals. (“I bet it would work,” they tell their dad. “I bet it won’t,” Brenton responds.) Hayden recently learned a little welding from his paternal grandfather. At their maternal grandparents, brother and sister help guard the gates during branding season to keep the calves from running off.
“Right now I’m planting barley. They’re seeing the hard work. When we harvest in the fall, they’ll see the payoff of that work. That’s one of the really neat things about agriculture,” Brenton said.
The last weeks of kindergarten are keeping Brooklyn out of the fields for this spring’s planting. But Brenton and Justine aren’t alone in their work. The couple welcomed their third child three months ago, and Carston already he is in the fields almost every day, his car seat safely secured next to his mom in her tractor.